In a cozy café in Reykjavik, Iceland, I was sipping my latte out of an oversized cup when a raven alit on the top of a bright red house outside the café. For the umpteenth time since I’d been in the country, I tried to pronounce the Icelandic word for Raven. Hrafn. I rolled the letters over my tongue, speaking the word aloud. As soon as I heard my voice, I knew I’d said it incorrectly. Hrafn. The fn makes a “p” sound, I reminded myself. But how do you pronounce Hr? Hrafn. Hrafn. I realized I’ve become that odd-looking traveler sitting alone at a table talking to myself.
I’d been thinking a lot about ravens. I’d come to Iceland to, among other things, work on my writing. The raven, or hrafn, is an important bird in Icelandic folklore. It is said that the Norse god Oðinn had two ravens that counseled him, Huginn (“Thought”) and Muninn (“Memory”). I’d hoped the raven outside the café would help inspire my thoughts and memories, and therefore my writing. But really, the bird was just the beginning, because so much in Iceland inspired my creativity.
We asked filmmakers Lindsay Blatt and Paul Taggert to share their experience filming their documentary Herd In Iceland. They told us all about the traditions of the herders they encountered, the beauty of the countryside and the rich culture hidden away in the cities and farms of Iceland.
Iceland is an island nation of approximately 300,000 people and 80,000 horses, on a parcel of land about the size of Kentucky. Our documentary Herd In Iceland began filming in 2010, with a return trip in the fall of 2011. The film tells the story of the Icelandic herders, whose sheep and semi-wild horses spend their summers grazing in the highlands, free to roam and raise their young. Every September, farm owners from each county ride into the mountains to collect their herds and bring them home for the winter. The film documents this historic tradition, and shows the special relationship the people have with their hardy and curious horses.
Update: European air traffic controllers said airspace will return to normal on Thursday, after the Grimsvotn volcano eruption in Iceland last weekend. More than a 1,000 flights were canceled due to the plume of ash and soot.
Iceland’s main airport remains closed and roads covered in gray soot, after the Grimsvotn volcano erupted on Sunday, May 22, 2011. It was the volcano’s largest eruption in 100 years. The volcano has already forced the Keflavik airport to close and forced the cancellation of 40 international flights.
More airport closures and flight cancellations are possible as the plums of ash continue to move toward the UK. Officials at the National Air Traffic Service Ltd. say air services from 12 Scottish airports, including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen may be interrupted. U.S. President Barak Obama had to curtail his trip to Ireland due to the moving ash cloud.
Scientists don’t believe this volcano’s ash will wreak more havoc on Europe’s airports than last year’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption — that incident stranded 10 million people and was several billions of dollars in losses.